Al Shindagah Magazine Al Habtoor Group acquires UK hotel

Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor, chairman of the Al Habtoor has announced that Metropolitan International has added the Monkey Island Hotel to its existing portfolio of luxury hotels in its first venture in the UK.

The History of Monkey Island
Monkey Island Hotel is a beautiful country hotel located on a four and a half acre private island in the River Thames near the picturesque village of Bray. It is commonly believed that the island's name derives from the earlier title of Monks Eyot It was thought that Monks used the island in association with their fishery in the Thames. Other popular anecdotes regarding the origin of the name make reference to King George III, who apparently in his sad, mad days lived on the island with a monkey as a pet.

However, contrary to popular belief the name stems from the monkey paintings in the Monkey Room. The French artist, Andle de Clermont, was commissioned to paint whatever he deemed appropriate. Monkeys were his choice. The hotel is steeped in history and in the Bray Court Rolls of 1361 the island is called Bournhamas Eyte, in a document entitling John Casse and John Tylehurst to use it for pasturage at the charge of 2/6d per annum. The name occurs again in the Public Records Office plan of 1640 when it is referred to as Burnham-Ayt. The words Eyot, Oyte and Ayt are Old English expressions for an island.

Ironically, Monkey Island may not have progressed had it not been for the Great Fire of London in 1666. During the re-building of the City, Berkshire stone was shipped downstream to the capital barges which, on their return, carried rubble to be dumped on many of their islands in the Thames. This rubble provided Monkey Island with a solid foundation for building whilst raising the level to prevent flooding.

By 1840 the Pavilion had become a riverside inn which could be reached by ferry from the South Bank. It became particularly fashionable after the turn of the century when Edward VII and Queen Alexandra often had afternoon tea on the lawns with their children. Rebecca West and HG Wells have also visited the island.

The footbridge was not built until 1956, and additional rooms were added in 1963 retaining the original building as a centrepiece. The Temple was a private residence until 1970 when more rooms were added and the property became Monkey Island Hotel with the original temples scheduled as Grade I listed buildings.

Monkey Island Today
The Monkey Island Hotel has twenty-six rooms and suites, all of which have their own river or garden views. The Pavilion restaurant is situated at the top of the island and overlooks the River Thames. The restaurant can cater for up to 100 guests and has been awarded two AA rosettes. The hotel is also available for private conferences or functions. The hotel has four function rooms, which can cater for parties up to 130. The Hotel provides an ideal setting for all manner of events from business conferences to birthday or anniversary celebrations.

Monkey Island Hotel is also an ideal venue for weddings. The Bride can choose to arrive by car, boat or helicopter. The ceremony can then be conducted in one of the function rooms. The River Room is suspended over the Thames and with its panoramic windows provides natural daylight and beautiful river views for up to 130 guests. Alternatively there are the Pavilion, Garden and Temple rooms. The Island can be reserved for exclusive use.

Monkey Island and Metropolitan International
As with all Metropolitan International's properties basic priorities will remain the same: we will strive constantly to improve our already high standards of service and offer our clients facilities matching the best anywhere in the world. Our aim, as always, is not just to meet our customer needs but to exceed them.

Metropolitan International now have four, shortly to be five, properties located in Dubai, Maidenhead and Cairo. The acquisition of the Monkey Island Hotel represents a further development by Al Habtoor Group from being a Dubai based trading company into a truly international business enterprise. The Group is firmly committed to seeking out new business opportunities and acquisitions in the future.